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Webmaster's Blog - Native American Resources

A place to put resources of a more ephemeral nature, such as events, recommended new websites, new books, etc.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Tribal Leader Ousted Over Abortion Clinic

PORCUPINE, S.D. (AP) -- A Sioux tribe ousted its president for proposing an abortion clinic on the reservation, which would be beyond the reach of South Dakota's strict new abortion ban.

By a 9-5 vote late Thursday, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council determined Cecelia Fire Thunder had pursued the clinic for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation without council approval, and she was immediately replaced.

''The bottom line is the Lakota people were adamantly opposed to abortion on our homelands. The president was involved in unauthorized political actions,'' said Will Peters, the council member who filed the complaint.

Fire Thunder said the council did not handle the action properly and promised to challenge it.

''It's not about abortion. A lot of them have personal stuff toward me,'' said Fire Thunder, who had survived two earlier attempts to remove her from office since becoming the tribe's first female president in 2004.

Fire Thunder began proposing a clinic in March, shortly after Gov. Mike Rounds signed one of the toughest abortion laws in the country. It bans abortion in almost all cases and does not include exceptions for rape or incest. The council suspended Fire Thunder in May and also voted to ban abortions on the reservation.

She once worked part-time at a Planned Parenthood clinic in California that performed abortions and said her support for a clinic comes from concern for girls and women who are victims of rape and incest.

''We have a lot of 14- and 15-year-olds getting pregnant, and it did not happen by strangers,'' she told the council.

Peters said that under Lakota values, abortion is wrong and life is sacred.

Fire Thunder was replaced by Alex White Plume.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tropical Stonehenge May Have Been Found

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory -- a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.
On the shortest day of the year -- Dec. 21 -- the shadow of one of the blocks, which is set at an angle, disappears.

''It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory,'' said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. ''We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture.''

Anthropologists have long known that local indigenous populations were acute observers of the stars and sun. But the discovery of a physical structure that appears to incorporate this knowledge suggests pre-Columbian Indians in the Amazon rainforest may have been more sophisticated than previously suspected.

''Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization,'' Cabral said.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gene Autry's Legacy and an Indian Museum Merge (and Collide)

LOS ANGELES, June 22 — When one of the country's premier collections of American Indian artifacts joined forces three years ago with the collectibles of the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, the move was officially billed as a merger of equals.

This being Hollywood, however, the storyline was reduced to something simpler: the cowboys were once again battling the Indians.

Guess which side won.

Instead of celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding next year, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian will lock its doors here on June 30. Over the next three years, the 240,000 objects in its collection, many of which have not been out of storage for decades, will be cleaned, cataloged and prepared for a move to a proposed new building next to Autry's Museum of the American West, in Griffith Park.

That is where the Autry National Center, as the merged museum complexes are now known, will celebrate another 100th anniversary next year: the Gene Autry Centennial, a birthday exhibition that, according to the museum, will explore "the Singing Cowboy's influence on myth and history in the American West."

Photo Shows Ney in Meeting With Tribe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Indian tribe that was a client of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has released a photograph of tribal leaders meeting with Rep. Bob Ney, who had told investigators he wasn't familiar with the tribe.

The photo shows the Tigua tribe's Lt. Gov. Carlos Hisa and tribal council member Raul Gutierrez with Ney in a House hearing room on Aug. 14, 2002, less than a week after Ney finished an expenses-paid golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff and others.

On Nov. 12, 2004, while being interviewed by Senate investigators, Ney said he could not recall meeting with the Tigua.

After the interview, Ney's lawyer said the congressman's calendar did list a half-hour meeting with the ''Taqua.'' Ney's spokesman Brian Walsh now says Ney may not have recognized the name ''Tigua'' because of the tribe's formal name, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

''Ney takes literally thousands of pictures with people visiting D.C. every year and he is supposed to remember every one of them?'' Walsh said.

According to testimony by Hisa and tribal spokesman Marc Schwartz, Ney met for 1 1/2 hours with Hisa, Gutierrez, Schwartz and Abramoff, and assured them that he was working to put a provision in an election-reform bill that would allow the tribe to reopen its shuttered casino. Ney also praised Abramoff as ''the man to work with for changes in Washington,'' Hisa said. The Tigua provision did not make it into the final legislation.

University of Colorado Chancellor Advises Firing Author of Sept. 11 Essay

DENVER, June 26 — The interim chancellor at the University of Colorado said on Monday that Prof. Ward L. Churchill, whose comments about the victims of Sept. 11 prompted a national debate about the limits of free speech, should be fired for academic misconduct.

Professor Churchill, 58, was immediately relieved of his academic and research duties as a result of the chancellor's recommendation, but will continue as a paid professor pending a decision by the Board of Regents.

The chancellor, Phil DiStefano, emphasized in a news conference at the university's Boulder campus that Professor Churchill's essay about Sept. 11, in which he compared some World Trade Center victims to the Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann, had nothing to do with the recommendation to dismiss him.

Mr. DiStefano said two committees had found evidence of serious misconduct in the professor's record, including plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of scholarly work.

Professor Churchill's lawyer, David Lane, said that the professor's ultimate dismissal was now inevitable, and that retribution for politically unpopular speech was the real reason. A lawsuit against the university alleging violations of the professor's First Amendment rights is also inevitable, Mr. Lane said.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Crazy Horse Sculptor's Wife Runs Memorial - New York Times

When Ruth Ross married sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1950, her husband's vow also became hers: to honor American Indians by carving the likeness of Sioux warrior Crazy Horse into a granite mountain in the southern Black Hills. That promise is why Ruth Ziolkowski, who turns 80 on Monday, is now in charge of the world's largest mountain carving -- one that is still being carved out after more than half a century.

She didn't set out to run a multimillion-dollar operation that spans a 1,000-acre complex, draws more than a million visitors a year and employs 176 -- including seven of the couple's 10 children and several grandchildren. But after her husband's death in 1982, Ziolkowski felt she had to carry through on his commitment.

''It's not a one-person deal. I'm the one that gets all of the accolades and all of the glory and it doesn't need to be that way,'' Ziolkowski said. ''This is a team effort. It wouldn't be here if we didn't have a lot of great people.''

Sunday marked the 130th anniversary of the battle that made Crazy Horse famous. On June 25, 1876, the Oglala Sioux war chief led the attack by hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors against Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry, killing Custer and more than 200 of his troopers at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mayan Treasures at the Met: Passing Strange Communications From the Beyond - New York Times

TREASURES OF SACRED MAYA KINGS," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gets a big gold "A" for truth in advertising, at least as far as its treasures go. They are plentiful, rare and splendid, and I'll start by pointing out two.

A carved wooden figure of a kneeling shaman, arms extended, time-scoured face entranced, is one of the greatest sculptures currently on view in the museum. Donatello and Tilman Riemenschneider would have loved it. And wait till you see the painted ceramic vessel known as the Dazzler Vase. With its red and green patterns like jade on fire, you'll know in a flash how it got its name.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Honoring Warriors From Both the Past and the Present - New York Times

"Where are your lands?" a trader once taunted Crazy Horse.

"My lands are where my dead lie buried," the Sioux chief responded.

About 200 people crossed that rolling prairie on horseback last week, riding from Nebraska to South Dakota in a four-day tribute to honor all military veterans and the revered Crazy Horse.

"It was a way to say thank you to our warrior culture," said Charles Brewer, 40, of Pine Ridge, S.D., who organized the ninth annual Crazy Horse Ride.

Most of the riders were children and teenagers from the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Sioux tribe. Others came from Chicago, New York and Germany to take part.

Mr. Brewer, a mechanic who also raises buffalo and horses, said he wanted to pay tribute to war veterans, including three of his uncles, who reflect Crazy Horse's courage and strength.

For Gilbert Mesteth, 51, of Slim Butte, S.D., this year's ride took on a special significance. He was riding alongside his daughter, Jennifer Deon, 26, of Rapid City, S.D., who served in Iraq for six months in 2003. "That's a very big sense of pride for me," Mr. Mesteth said.

The ride began Monday at Fort Robinson, Neb., where Crazy Horse was killed in 1877.

Riders camped near Hay Springs, Neb., where the chief's body was placed in a tree for his wake. His burial site remains hidden, as elusive as the great chief himself.